BVR: That ties in to the work you are doing these days with Toyota and Hiring Our Heroes. President Obama, reciting the official account of the battle at Ganjgal, said, “The story of what Dakota did next will be told for generations.” Will we have come to terms with it, even then? Here’s what I’ll say. He may have been very blunt with his supervisor; perhaps that seemed uncoöperative. BVR: Did you two talk about the wars at all? What is it like to be called a hero publicly, and be distrusted privately and in the workplace? “I feel that by selling this to Pakistan we are doing the exact opposite. “I checked them all for a pulse,” he wrote in a handwritten statement for military investigators, obtained by the Marine Corps Times, but the “bodies were already stiff…. Late last year, Swenson was finally awarded the Medal of Honor, an outcome that Meyer was pleased with, saying the captain’s bravery that day needed to be recognized. DM: Whether people agree with his politics, whether you’re Republican or Democrat or anything else, at the end of the day the man still became president because he’s the best man. They said, “Well, you know, the President is busy right now. I think that’s why. Unless you just hit somebody and knock them out, but there’s still no win. A later report by Jonathan Landay, who was embedded with a Marine unit involved in the Battle of Ganjgal, questioned several key details in the official Marine Corps account of the firefight, including Meyer’s role. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. BVR: So you would say that account was accurate and there were not exaggerations or inaccuracies? He ended up being late. Just multiple things like that. His patrol, with two Afghan Army platoons, was headed to a meeting in a village called Ganjgal one day before dawn in September, 2009, when they were ambushed. Do you feel in any way betrayed by some of his criticism of you? DM: Look. And so they had to coordinate it. It was an all-volunteer war, and it was fought with less than .45% of the nation doing it. DM: I’m trying to raise awareness for veterans. DM: I still think Will Swenson deserves the medal and I think that he acted courageously that day. A native of Kentucky, he enlisted in 2006 shortly after graduating high school and the next year was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. BVR: Why do you think there have been such few Medals of Honor awarded post-9-11, as compared to the rate they were awarded in Vietnam or World War II? If it’s not, if you drive off from this place, don’t ever look back and do it again, and go make a difference. So I just asked him, what does it take to be successful? There are other kinds of abandonment in the story, too, and many other questions, going back to the ambush itself, and earlier. I’ll try to answer, but if I don’t hear my phone, he’ll have to call back.”. Just the guilt of it. Our troops’ position seems to have been betrayed by our Afghan allies; air support was denied, leading to the reprimand of a number of officers. And then things went wrong. BVR: Have you used the Post-9-11 G.I. They should be happy that they don’t have to serve. And I think the standard, it’s almost an impossible standard to receive the medal. BVR: In the middle of the government shutdown you famously tweeted, “Congress 2016. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. DM: They should do that anyway, because these men and women are fighting and sacrificing for their freedom. BVR: I guess the trade off would be that the country as a whole feels more invested in the war. So if we put any words in the same sentence as veterans, other than “great,” it’s not the right word. By this time Meyer was back home, living in Kentucky. I wish nothing but the best for him. Look, 11:50, you’ll be receiving a call from the White House. If you start doing a draft, you start pulling in…the quality of the military comes down. He paused. He got a chance to work for another company, BAE Systems, which has revenues of more than a billion and a half dollars in government contracts. His cufflinks were made from human molars. I mean there’s really nothing to say. This is what happened to Meyer after he got back home from Afghanistan, according to a defamation lawsuit that he has filed in Bexar County, Texas. Suddenly thrust into the national spotlight by virtue of his award—one conspicuously rare in twelve years of war was initially and universally celebrated as a hero. Was all the sacrifice worth it? Dakota Meyer will probably always have somewhere to turn, not least to the families whose children’s bodies he brought back. That’s the thing. Our veterans are the greatest of the generation. His position is more secure than many: the President hung a medal around his neck (although that can also be a burden). Meyer quit his job. Where we live at, where our kids go to school, what we eat, what lifestyle we live, depends on the income we bring in, and being able to provide for your family, and that’s your employment. If they succeed or not, then that’s their destiny. Meyer’s ‘pending star status.’”. When his truck stopped working he found another, and then another. BVR: That was years ago, right? BVR: I wanted to ask you about—I don’t know if you can talk about it—but the lawsuit that you filed against BAE settled—, BVR: Can you confirm that these are your words, if I read you a part of an email that the New Yorker reported you sent to your boss? Our Teams’ depth of experience with the processes, systems of inspections, and standards associated with the various Service Branches and Government Agencies enable our expedited understanding, seamless integration, and immediate performance on your projects. BVR: Do you think that the all-volunteer force is possibly a harmful thing? About a year later, word got out that a living Marine had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. Since 9-11, we’ve been in the longest war we’ve ever been in. Photograph by Richard Perry/The New York Times. Dakota Meyer will probably always have somewhere to turn, not least to the families whose children’s bodies he brought back. Part of the question here is whether BAE should have been marketing sophisticated thermal-optic scopes to the Pakistanis. Believing in it. Further controversy came with news that Army Captain William Swenson, also nominated for a Medal of Honor for his actions in Ganjgal, was involved in a public dispute with Meyer. HuffPost is part of Verizon Media. I told him the news, and then he went right back to work. BVR: Fair enough. Guys you lost, brothers and sisters that fell over there next to you, and you made it home. The fifth and final time he went in on foot, and finally made it to the trench where his four friends had been trapped. He got in touch with Tom Grant, his manager at Ausgar, who said he’d be glad to have him back. In an e-mail to his supervisor, Bobby McCreight, quoted in the suit, Meyer writes that he’d joined BAE to help make equipment to protect American troops (“This is where I could see me still ‘doing my part’ ”): I feel that by selling this to Pakistan we are doing the exact opposite. BVR: So you would say the lack of Medals of Honor is due to the military vetting people more closely, getting more sworn statements—. I don’t know when you went over there, but when I left there, it was in a lot better place than it was when I got there. He rode into the field on the exposed back of a gun truck, under heavy fire, and saved thirty-six soldiers, more than two dozen of them Afghans. But that wouldn’t be Dakota Meyer’s problem. Dakota Meyer is a United States Marine. Meyer's actions that day helped lead to the recovery of their bodies and saved the lives of a number of wounded troops. He was supposed to call me at 11:50, and I scheduled my lunch break around it. DM: Yeah, that’s ridiculous. He thought that the scopes were better than what most American soldiers had. That turns out to be a complicated story. BVR: What kind of work have you been doing to try and make a difference? He had left the active duty military and hit what he has since called his personal “rock bottom,” including a suicide attempt. DM: That’s what most guys have is the guilt, the frustration, the anger of what happened over there. He was twenty-one years old. We are simply taking the best gear, the best technology on the market to date and giving it to guys that are known to stab us in the back…. To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. Too many politicians and private companies have simply looked away, or looked for a profit. (All of that running through the battlefield, saving the living and carrying out the dead, was done with an arm full of shrapnel.) DM: He just said, you’ve got to keep going out there and working hard every day. BVR: You were the first living recipient—. Grant sent Meyer an e-mail, cited in the lawsuit, saying that he couldn’t hire Meyer after all: BAE’s McCreight had told a defense official, who had to OK the hiring, that Meyer was “mentally unstable,” and had a problem finishing tasks and with his “activities in a social setting related to drinking.” Meyer’s lawsuit argues that this description was false, and was retaliation for his position on Pakistan. BVR: As far as your own reintegration, I know that your book goes into some of the problems you had, even to the point of a suicide attempt that you called your rock bottom. He did talk about how he had read over my actions and said that he believed that I deserved the medal. After Meyer “made his views known,” according to the suit, McCreight “began berating and belittling” him, “taunted” him, and, as his Medal of Honor nomination worked its way through the system, “sarcastically and disdainfully ridiculed what he called Sgt. We all worry about our next generation. BVR: Is it true that when the President called to tell you that you would be receiving the Medal of Honor, you asked him to call you back on your lunch break? We got rid of him. You’re trying to ask me about something four years ago and I can’t sit and… well, it’s 2009, five years ago. But that is largely beside the point. DM: There’s more access to people, and I think that everyone remembers things differently and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer is a United States Marine Corps veteran and recipient of the military’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Do you feel like you’re in a totally different place now? I just try to go out and help others, to do whatever I can to make a difference. And I told them, I said, “That ain’t happening.” And they said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Look, I’ve got to work and I ain’t got a landline out there. In a rare in-depth interview, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer opened up to The Daily Beast about his possible future in politics, the time he almost passed on speaking with the president because he didn’t want to miss work, the controversy generated by his award, his work as a veterans advocate, and more. DM: I’ll do whatever it takes to go out and help others. Is getting involved in politics a serious aspiration of yours? BVR: I know that you lobbied strongly on his behalf for his valor to be officially recognized, and it’s probably safe to say that without your attention to him, he would not have received his own Medal of Honor. I don’t know if a lot of them know how to use it or if they know the capabilities that they could use it on. At first suspiciously lost by the military bureaucracy, Swenson’s Medal of Honor paperwork was later revived, but General David Petraeus, acting surreptitiously, tried to have the award downgraded to a lesser one.

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